This week, I’ve already received 9 requests for product reviews. I’ve rejected them all. I’m sure many of them had an interesting product, savvy management team, and incredible dreams for the future.
The problem was that they all treated me and my readers as just another to-do item. We were their blogger outreach target and they treated us like any other blogger. That’s why their generic pitches are sitting in the trash folder.
There are better ways to do blogger outreach. In fact, there are 21 better ways:
1. Know the blogger's audience: Spend more than ten minutes studying the blogger’s audience. Know what they want to know about and buy. Hold off on approaching a blogger until you understand their audience as least as well as they do.
2. Know the blogger’s habits: I’ve never done a formal product review. Yet, I still get review requests. Look for clues that your blogger will actually consider your request.
3. Engage before you ask: Don’t show up on a blogger’s doorstep uninvited. The requests that trashed presume that they know me. Offer substantive comments, mention the blogger on your website or Twitter stream, look for other opportunities to engage before you send a pitch.
4. Don’t delegate outreach to the intern: Blogger outreach is an art. It requires high-level attention. Giving it to the intern will give you poor results, the same applies to the faceless PR firm, or social media agency. Pick your blogger outreach targets and get a high level person to engage with the blogger. Trust me. It works.
5. Kill the form letter emails: It’s unbelievably tacky to use a template email for blogger outreach. I’m showing you the door the moment I detect that I’m 1 of 2,000. If your product is so bad that it requires 10,000 emails to get one bite then you shouldn’t be doing blogger outreach.
6. Stop abusing the contact form: Contact forms are for readers and customers that have earned the right to show up in my email box. It’s not a dumping ground for every “revolutionary” product pitch. I’m sure other bloggers feel the same way.
7. Create creative Win/Win: Find new ways to deliver a benefit to the blogger. Offer to write content, sponsor the creative for a customized infographic, pre-sign them up for a membership, buy their ticket to a conference you’re sponsoring. The point is to stand out.
8. Have an amazing product: Have a product that takes my breath away. Understand that your blogger “targets” eat, sleep, and drink their subject matter. They are hard to impress. Do whatever it takes to show the blogger that they won’t look like an idiot recommending your product.
9. Offer content before asking for a recommendation: Bloggers need content - lots of it. People who offer me substantive guest post tailor-made for my audience get my attention. Once I use your content, I’m open to looking at your product.
10. Seek out introductions: Every blogger has a circle of people they trust. An introduction or request from that circle gets instant consideration. Put on your Sherlock Holmes cap and find your blogger’s inner circle. Add these confidantes to your outreach campaign too.
11. Get on the radar screen: Bloggers read their comments. Bloggers check out sites that link to their blog. Bloggers appreciate being listed on reputable award and recognition lists. These are proven ways to get noticed. Find a way to add these opportunities to your outreach strategy.
12. Persist AFTER Contact: If a blogger doesn’t respond within a week, they deleted your email. You messed up. Sending another email will just brand you as a jackass. But, if the blogger responds feel free to be persistent until you hear a no. In this case, the blogger is probably too busy to follow-up immediately. Again, don’t be a jackass. An email every day isn’t tenacious, it’s tacky.
13. No sometimes means “Not Now”: Keep engaging: Keep engaging with the blogger (see #3) even if you receive a “no”. Sometimes the No just means “not now” and the blogger is waiting for a concrete reason to spend more time with your product.
14. Focus on Quality not Quantity: If your blogger outreach list has 100 people on it then you’re doing it wrong. Focus on a handful of bloggers that meet your criteria. Focus your effort on quality engagement, discussion, and creative win/win outreach.
15. Put the product in their hands: I won’t risk my reputation recommending or reviewing a product that I’ve never used. Send me a password for a free membership, send me the book, send the product with a handwritten note. This isn’t an appeal to park the UPS truck in front of my office, it’s a reminder that seeing the product for myself is more powerful than taking your word for it.
16. Consider a blogger nurture campaign (Press releases, Case Studies, Custom content): Blogger outreach is a marathon not a sprint. You’ll rarely get a response after one contact attempt. It’s a smart idea to set up a series of outreach touch points to surround your blogger contact with opportunities to engage with your product. If you are saying, “that it too expensive” or “that will take too much time” then see #14.
17. Don’t be “That Guy” in the comments: Only use comments to add a helpful perspective to the conversation. Using comments to say “Hey Stan, I left you an email about my product” is well...use your imagination.
18. Create a story around your users: Great bloggers are amazing storytellers. Help them understand your product by sending them stories about how your product is helping your customers. This works even better if the hero of the story is your blogger’s readers.
19. Respect our “bullsh*t detector”: Apple is the only one who gets to use the terms revolutionary, extraordinary, and magical. Your product isn’t that until your customers say it is.
20. Keep it short: It’s 10:41AM, I’ve already written a new special report, drafted this post, and spoken to a client. I have 50 more things on my to-do list to accomplish. Remember you are adding to this list. Keep your outreach short, creative, and meaningful.
21. Go Offline: Snail mail is making a comeback. It seems that people miss finding cool stuff in their mailbox. If I were doing a blogger outreach campaign, I would be sending Shock And Awe packages to my blogger buddies. (yep, that was a hint)
What did I miss? As a blogger, how can someone get on your radar screen?